By Dr. Adenike Yesufu
I was watching again
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough with Richard Chamberlain’s excellent performance as Father Ralph. Many people see this movie as a love story. But I see a priest’s intense struggle with his spirituality (his love for God) and his sexuality (his human passion).
There is no doubt that Father Ralph loves his God more than he loves the woman of focus as he claims in the movie. His problem started the day, when as a young priest, he sets his eyes on Meggie, who became his protégé, till when he died as a Cardinal. Though a fiction, this story represents the sexual struggles that many Christians are dealing with.
Homosexuality and bisexuality are not the only sexual issues confronting Christians. Homosexuals claim that their sexual orientation should not prevent them from fully serving God and, therefore, they should be ordained by the Church.
Young Christians are dealing with the problem of premarital sex, with abstinence being touted as unrealistic.
Unmarried adults are dealing with issues of sex in their intimate relationships, while not married, which the Bible calls fornication.
Some celibate priests are struggling with their vows, claiming that they can marry and still be able to serve God effectively.
Jesus said some people become eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom. The Bible talks about the merit of singleness, but does single by choice include celibacy by choice? I do not know. But, then, God says it is not good that man should be alone. Married Christians including men of God struggling with the laws of attraction are being drawn into extra-marital affairs, which the Bible calls adultery and which has become pervasive even in Christian circles.
Studies show that men and women, some of whom may be Christians are equally engaged in this practise, with the workplace being the most fertile ground for it. Many Christians are dealing with the issues of divorce. Although God said that He hates divorce, He grants some concessions.
But, then, Christians constitute a sizeable portion of the 50 per cent whose marriages end in divorce.
Christians are brushing aside with deep conviction their marital commitment of ’‘till death do us part’‘ with the right to divorce if there is no more love in their marriages and, of course, if there is violence.
Divorce has become the preferred option with the low tolerance that human beings now have for each other’s violations. Christians are having struggles with remarriages.
There are Christians who are serial monogamists. The Bible says that a woman is bound by law as long as her husband lives. Remarriage can only occur when the divorced spouse dies. But then the Bibles says that it is better to marry than to burn.
Some Christians are dealing with the issue of polygamy which is contrary to the Church’s position of ‘’one man one wife,’‘ because their culture supports and accepts the practice. What happens to a polygamous man who becomes a Christian? Traditionally, the Church has urged them to divorce the women and keep one; but which one? However, the problem has not disappeared. In fact, it has intensified in today’s world with the lopsided sex ratio between men and women.
Polygamy has, however, manifested itself in other forms even in Western societies with kept women, official mistresses and children born out of wedlock by single Christian men and women. And, maybe there are Christian women out there dealing with the issue of polyandry. Who knows?
Even old couples are wondering if it is Christianly and holy to have sex at an advanced age. Does God approve, they ask. Who knows?
All I know is that Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 when they were blessed with Isaac. Sexuality issues are thorny for many Christians. God’s gift to humanity is its sexuality and its spirituality.
St. Augustine says that our hearts are restless until they find rest in God. Paul drew attention to the perennial struggle between the flesh and the spirit.
If Sex is God’s idea as Earl Paulk suggests in the title of his book, why is there so much confusion about it among His creation? Just a thought!
But what should be done about these various struggles? It is complicated. I think only God has the answer. Maybe Christians’ prayer should be St. Augustine’s prayer, ‘’Lord make me chaste, but not yet!!!’‘